Saturday, February 23, 2013

Griffin does Wiener 1


It's fitting that the Examiner's Melissa Griffin wrote the latest article on Scott Wiener in San Francisco magazine, since like Wiener  she knows little about CEQA, which she demonstrated in a recent column:  

The way it is structured, CEQA is a state law, but it is administered by local governments. Localities decide which projects have a “substantial economic[sic] impact”---those that do are required to do complete an (often very costly) environmental impact report. The developer may have to amend their plans based on the report. Critics of the current system say that the definition of “substantial” is murky and not objective, and it varies from place to place around the state.

"Structured"? CEQA is in fact a state law that local jurisdictions must follow. And of course CEQA is not about "economic" impacts but about environmental impacts. That was probably just a Freudian slip by Griffin in a column parroting in a pseudo-objective style complaints about CEQA made by developers---and Governor Brown, who wants to eliminate any obstacles to the state's high-speed rail boondoggle, since there are several lawsuits against that potentially ruinous project, including a couple under CEQA [Later: The "Proposition 1A Challenge To The Proposed Project"---that the project has morphed into something that no longer resembles what California voted for in 2008---may be the most serious challenge to the project] 

Under CEQA developers and government agencies are required to conduct an environmental review of any project that even might have a negative impact on our environment. If the review finds that there will be significant impacts, developers then have to try to mitigate them. An important goal of CEQA---always ignored by its critics---is also to provide the public with enough information to understand how proposed projects are going to impact the environment of their cities and neighborhoods. 

Developers of course hate that requirement and argue that grass is going to grow in the streets if they aren't allowed to build whatever they want with no restrictions.

The Bicycle Coalition hates it because CEQA forced City Hall to do an environmental review of the 500-page Bicycle Plan that's going to redesign city streets---taking away more than 2000 parking spaces and 50 traffic lanes on busy city streets to make bike lanes---on behalf of the coalition's small, militant, PC minority.

WalMart would also like to eliminate CEQA review when it locates its new megastores.

Griffin claims that "labor unions and environmental groups like the Sierra Club are defending" CEQA, but that's at best a half-truth, since labor unions are interested in allowing development projects, since even dumb, destructive projects create jobs for unions: See, for example, union support for the Central Subway and high-speed rail projects. 

Since Griffin doesn't know or understand any of this, she's unable to ask Wiener any serious questions about his bogus attempt to "reform" CEQA, like does he have a single example of the CEQA problem he's supposedly addressing? Instead her profile is just another big fat smooch on Wiener's ass by the local media.

San Francisco Magazine has a history of ass-kissing, which they naturally see as marketing their glossy product: here and here.

I gave the magazine a "Biggest Ass-Kissing of the Year" award for their 2007 profile of Aaron Peskin. Griffin's smooch-job is in the lead for that award for 2013, but it's early in the year, and the previous profiles of Wiener in the local media will be strong contenders.


Memory Hole note: San Francisco Magazine, "Modern Luxury"---or whatever it calls itself---no longer provides an online archive of the very few interesting articles it's published over the years. If you don't have a hard copy of a story, you're out of luck if you want to link to any past articles in the magazine, like the July 2007 issue and the February 2007, Aaron Peskin issue.

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